R.I. State Council on the Arts has awarded $6,000 per year for three years to three notable local artists, Aleksandra "Sasha" Azbel, Bob Dilworth and Edwige Charlot.
Recipients of the grant, General Operating Support for Artists, will receive support for large, specific, self-identified projects in their art practice. Additionally, the program includes a cohort, which offers support, enrichment, and community-based opportunities. The program requires that participants submit a report once per year and remain R.I. residents for the full three years.
In making the announcement RISCA's Executive Director Lynne McCormack said, "We developed this three-year grant program, now in its second year, to enable artists to focus on their artmaking. The program continues our effort to update our grantmaking to align more closely with the needs of the arts community and our values of diversity, equity and inclusion. On behalf of RISCA, I am proud to recognize these individual artists, Azbel, Dilworth and Charlot, and give them the opportunity to continue to contribute to the civic and artistic life in Rhode Island." Official bios (provided by the artists):
Aleksandra "Sasha" Azbel is the founder and creative director of Sashoonya, a textile art and design company, specializing in sustainable textile products using local materials and dyes derived from nature. An immigrant from Kazakhstan, Sasha studied architecture at Texas A and M, and RISD and teaches part time in the architecture department at Roger Williams University. In 2019, Sasha received a Fulbright to explore natural dyes in Sri Lanka, while her time there was cut short by a global pandemic, she used her new creative momentum to bring her natural dye passion back to Rhode Island, a place she loves to call home.
While in school she traveled and witnessed artisan communities in central America and Asia using non-toxic colors derived from locally sourced plants. She noticed a direct connection between the land, the textiles, and the people. This link carries with it a deep spirit, a pride of home and material culture. Azbel believes this connection to nature brings us a sense of completeness, a sense of belonging, and even a sense of beauty. Can we too, reclaim that connection and spirit? Can we bring back the textile industry in a way that is sensitive, regenerative, and expressive of our landscapes and our sensibilities?
To seek out the answers to those questions, and to prove their depth and strength, in 2021, Sasha founded Sashoonya, based in Nicholson File Arts complex, Providence. When not in the studio, she can be found farming, salsa dancing and mentoring at a local girl's school, Sophia Academy.
Bob Dilworth, Providence, is a nationally and internationally recognized artist who has exhibited all over the world. Dilworth works on canvas and paper has won many awards. His work is included in corporate and private collections including Chicago libraries and public institutions, the RISD Museum, the Newport Art Museum and others. Dilworth earned a Master of Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from RISD.
He has taught art and design at colleges and universities throughout the country, including Princeton University, Brown University, Columbia College in Chicago and Saint Paul's College in Virginia. He is Professor Emeritus, Department of Art and Art History at URI, where he taught for 28 years. Between 2010 and 2013, he served as chair of that department. From 2014-2018, Dilworth served as Director of the URI Main Art Gallery where he curated academic-centered exhibitions by local, regional and national artists. He was Chair of Africana Studies at URI from 2018–2020.
Dilworth retired from URI in the spring of 2020. He served on the Board of Trustees at the Newport Art Museum (2017-20) and currently serves on the Board of Directors at the Jamestown Art Center. He also serves on the Board of the Langston Hughes Community Poetry Reading Group and is a current member of the Providence Art in City Life Commission. Dilworth lives in Providence where he works as a full-time artist, represented by Cade Tompkins Projects.
Edwige Charlot is a French-born Haitian immigrant artist and designer. As a descendant of Ayiti, Charlot's work explores the complexities, tensions, and challenges of the indigenization process in the Caribbean and Creole contexts, using nature-based motifs. In their transdisciplinary practice, Charlot questions, reflects, and represents the relationships between people, land and culture. They employ installation, sculpture, craft, collage and printmaking to present a visual lexical language.
Charlot's work has received support from various organizations, including RISCA, the Andy Warhol Foundation through the Interlace Grant Fund, the St. Botolph Club Foundation Emerging Artist Award, the Maine Arts Commission and the Parent Residency Fellowship from the Sustainable Arts Foundation. They earned their BFA in Printmaking from the Maine College of Art and Design. Their work has been exhibited at the Maine Jewish Museum, Endicott College, Amherst College and the Fruitlands Museum. Charlot has been an artist in residence at BOOM Concepts in Pittsburgh, the Wedding Cake House and Queer.Archive.Work [queer.archive.work] in Providence, Tides Institute & Museum of Art in Eastport, Maine, and the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, Vt. Charlot's work has been exhibited in New England, New Jersey and New York, most recently in the New England Triennial 2022. Charlot resides in Providence, with their child and partner.
General Operating Support for Artists grant program provides support for artists to work toward larger, self-identified goals in their art practice. This funding is unrestricted, meaning artists can use the funds to support their goals however they need. This program includes a cohort community of current grantees, with meetings and learning opportunities. The grant program will open for applications on May 1, 2024. Read more about the program.